POSCO Future M Aims to Decrease Dependence on Chinese Graphite for Anodes
POSCO Future M Aims to Decrease Dependence on Chinese Graphite for Anodes

POSCO Future M Aims to Decrease Dependence on Chinese Graphite for Anodes

  • 24-Apr-2023 5:43 PM
  • Journalist: Xiang Hong

China: POSCO Future M, the battery materials unit of POSCO, one of South Korea's leading Steel companies, is in talks with battery manufacturers to produce anode materials using Graphite sourced from a mine in Tanzania, Africa. The move will help the company reduce its dependence on China for this crucial material.

Currently, POSCO Future M operates an anode plant in Sejong City, which relies on imported Graphite from China to produce anode, a crucial battery component. By exploring alternative sources, the company aims to diversify its supply chain and secure a stable supply of Graphite.

At the facility's entrance stands a tall 20-meter iron structure, purposefully designed to store raw materials, and finished products. Automated cranes utilizing barcode technology move items, rendering the production process almost entirely void of human labor. Despite its size and scale, the plant operates with only four workers, and a total of 270 people are employed including those from the supply chain. Quality control is paramount, and the plant employs an innovative "air-shooting" technology, sending products through pipelines to minimize air exposure.

The process of producing anodes involves a series of three essential steps, such as mixing, baking, and post-processing. Typically, during the first step, the Graphite surfaces undergo processing and are coated with pitches, a substance obtained from Coal or Petroleum. Due to their tendency to expand during usage, Graphite anodes possess limited capacity for fast charging and discharging.

However, with the advanced technology developed by POSCO Future M, self-swelling of anodes has become preventable. They have utilized pitches to enhance the batteries' charging and discharging capacity and extend their life cycle.

POSCO Future M produces natural Graphite anodes through a four-step process. The Graphite is baked at a high temperature of 1,000 to 1,300 degrees Celsius for ten hours, following the initial step. During the "plasticity process," the material is electrically heated for 40 meters through a pipeline. Once complete, the baked material forms chunks resembling gravels, with each measuring 2 centimeters in diameter. Finally, residual iron is removed from the surfaces of the chunks before grinding. The anode plants produce approximately 74,000 tons of natural Graphite anodes each year.

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